Increase Rigor and Engagement: Top 2 Task Card Strategies for the Middle School Classroom

If you haven’t heard… content-related task cards are “all the rage” in education right now, all the way from Kinder to Upper Secondary. I was skeptical of their function and effectiveness a few years ago (when I first stumbled upon a set on a respected teacher’s blog), but since then, I’ve created, tested and improved over 50 different sets of task cards in my 7/8th grade classroom (ELA and Social Science).

I’ve shared my resources with teachers across the country and you will come across some of their feedback as you read through [what I think to be] the most effective ways to use task cards in your classroom with the goal of increasing the academic rigor and student engagement within your lessons!

Task Card_Test_1

Task Card Strategy #1: “Task Card Stations”

I use the “Task Card Station” activity if I feel that the students need to get up and move around the classroom.

  1. Print and cut a set of the task cards (you may need to use two sets if you have more than 24 students).
  2. Divide all students into teams of 4 students. I even allow them a minute to come up with a team name for their group.
  3. Print out a double-sided “response sheet for each team (or you can print one for every student).
  4. Each student’s “response sheet” should have a total of 8 blank task cards to record their
  5. Divide the task cards up into 6 sets of 4 by card number: For example, Set 1: Task Cards 1-4, Set 2: Task Cards 5-8, Set 3: Task Cards 9-12, Set 4: Task Cards 13-16, Set 5: Task Cards 17-20, and Set 6: Task Cards 21-14!
  6. Place a different set of cards on each
  7. Instruct students to start at a specific station and work on completing all task cards at that station. Once finish, they must relocate to a station that they haven’t been to and complete the task cards at that station.
  8. They must continue visiting new stations and completing new tasks until they’ve filled up their entire response sheet with answer to unique task

Task Card_Test_3

Task Card Strategy #2: “Task Card Grab Bag”

  1. Print and cut a set of all 24 task cards for each group of students (I have my students in 8 groups of 4).
  2. Print out two copies of the “response sheet” you prefer the students to use and then make a two-sided copy for each student.
  3. Each student’s “response sheet” should have a total of 8 blank task cards to record their responses on.
  4. Take each set of task cards and put them in some type of container that allows students to randomly draw one task card at a time.
  1. Students can work on completing the tasks for 8 different task cards at their own pace.
  2. After they draw a task card and read it, they must record the number of that task card in the blank number area on their response sheet. This will allow you to know which task card they have responded to.

Students love this activity because they think it’s a challenge to complete their tasks first! I’ve seen students get so engaged with this activity that they forget they are practicing the skills they need to master the standards.

These two strategies have worked with all of my different task card sets, but they have worked BEST with these:

Context Clues Task Cards Product

24 Task Cards – Context Clues and Determining Word Meaning – CCSS L.6-12.4


12 Literature Circle Task Cards – Any Novel or Story – Spark Critical Thinking

***IMPORTANT NOTE: These two strategies require physical task cards (printed) and response sheets. I am currently working on creating digital task cards for 1:1 secondary classrooms and what the implementation strategies for those might look like! Stay tuned!
Task Card_Test_2


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: